The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim/Tropes U-Z

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  • The Un-Reveal: Your initiation into the Dark Brotherhood consists of you being presented with three hooded figures, you're told one of them has a contract for their death and must carry it out, deciding which one you think is the one with the contract. However, you're never told who it actually was and you succeed regardless of who you kill, as the test was about your willingness to carry out the order and not who you slayed. Given that you're allowed to kill all three, and they all have reasons for others to want them dead, it's entirely possible all three had contracts, or even none of them. This is the Dark Brotherhood after all.
  • Unexpected Genre Change: The Thieves' Guild has a few missions in which stealth (the lynchpin of a Thief-type character) is not the main focus. Of note is the mission "Dampened Spirits", which is basically you going into a cellar to eliminate rats. You're not sneaking or breaking in (in fact, you have to get permission from the proprietor to even begin the quest) and combat with the spiders and skeevers which infest the underground caves is almost impossible to avoid. Even worse is the "Wake-Up Call" Boss at the end of the level, Hamelin, who is difficult to sneak on because alerting his pets alerts him as well, and at low levels, he can kill you in a matter of seconds.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The Blades will cut off all support if you refuse to kill Paarthurnax. This comes after you saved Esbern's life, help them reclaim Sky Haven Temple by literally using your blood and help re-establish their order with new recruits.
  • Unperson: The Thalmor are attempting to do this to Talos (and by extension Shor/Lorkhan). The ramifications have Apocalypse How: Metaphysical Annihilation severity.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Orc racial power Berserker Rage doubles weapon damage and halves damage received.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Nothing weird about that guy walking around with a ghost who talks loudly about how they are off to murder the Emperor and how they both work for the Dark Brotherhood. Even if said ghost and its master are currently walking through a town populated entirely by said Emperor's Praetorian Guard.
    • Averted with the Thieves Guild armor, which many guards will remark on and say they recognize.
    • If a dragon attacks a city and kills a person other than a guard before you defeat it, everyone focuses on the dead person, and not the fact that you absorbed a dragon's soul right in front of them.
    • Averted with some of the unique or high-end pieces of equipment (e.g. daedric artifacts and dragon bone armor): people will sometimes comment on them when you walk past.
      • Including daedric artifacts that cannot be seen on the Dovahkiin for reasons of being a reusable soul gem.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Can happen if you waste too much time in the prologue, as after a certain amount of time elapses from when you start following Hadvar and heading for the Helgen Keep, the dragon will single you out and start attacking you and you only, which can result in a short and brutal execution as your hands are still bound, and he can position himself in such a way that the only escape is through him. Be especially quick when in front of the Keep, as the dragon will land there and immediately torch you dead should you not run the hell away inside the keep.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted in general. Just about every perk, spell and shout has its uses, including seemingly useless ones. Deadly Shield Bash, for example, is not very useful compared to killing things with your dedicated weapons, but for mages who use shields, it turns them into an effective backup weapon if magicka runs out, and can serve as a workable backup for fighters who find themselves on the wrong side of a Disarm shout. Similarly, Elemental Fury is not terribly useful for someone with an enchanted weapon, but some particularly nasty weapons (i.e. Valdr's Lucky Dagger) don't count as enchanted.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: Averted with a vengence in this game, in response to criticism to Oblivion. With a character focused on Sneaking, you can avoid setting off traps in dungeons, make no noise even when running, make less noise regardless of armor weight, execute silent combat rolls, and take advantage of the highest damage multipliers in the game (bows will do three times normal damage, one-handed weapons six-times, and daggers fifteen times as much!). If you master pickpocketing, you can sneak up behind someone and steal all their armor and weapons without them ever noticing you. When combined with other perks, such as Silent Casting, Illusion spells and the ability to set Rune traps and conjure minions from several yards away, you can take care of threats without even being in the room. And even if you are caught, the Shadow Warrior perk allows you to run away, take a knee, and force the enemy to lose your location.
  • The Usual Adversaries:
    • Bandits. Almost everyone sends you to fight bandits eventually. There's almost always bandits involved.
    • Playing the trope even more straight are the Falmer, hideous blind mutant morlocks that hide underground (usually in Dwemer ruins). They're Exclusively Evil, and just plain stinky and nasty in general.


  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: The Silver Hand is a group of werewolf-hunters who don't discriminate between the non-evil werewolves and the ones that threaten villagers. They're also really brutal to the werewolves they do capture. One of their bases is essentially a werewolf skinning and tanning facility. For that matter, they're also hostile to you even if you're not a werewolf. If you wander into one of their forts by accident, they'll kill you anyway. So they're basically bandits who like killing werewolves for sport, rather than because it's the right thing to do. One of the common insults enemies use on you if you're a Khajiit is "You'll make a fine rug, cat!"... The Silver Hand apparently follow through.
  • Vendor Trash:
    • There's a lot of useless items scattered all throughout the game world that you can pick up and stash in your inventory. Pretty much any object that you could realistically pick up with one hand, you can take along with you. You can sell them off to willing merchants, though the majority of these things are worth no more than a few coins (even if, realistically speaking, said items should be quite valuable, such as silverware).
    • You can also make vendor trash. Alchemy recipes that provide both harmful and beneficial effects are generally useless in combat (i.e. a potion that buffs a magical school but drains magicka), but still sell pretty well. Anything enchanted with petty or lesser souls only really serves to boost the sell value and to train enchantment, even with high-level enchanting.
  • Vestigial Empire: Ever since the Septim dynasty was killed off in Oblivion's main story arc, the Empire has almost totally collapsed in on itself. After two hundred years of turmoil, only the provinces of Cyrodiil, High Rock, Orsinium and Skyrim remain under Imperial rule (and Morrowind, but just how much of a Zoidberg that is is unclear).
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Certain quests requires you to go out and find closure for people (usually by finding the corpse of whoever it is they're looking for). These are entirely optional and have no bearing whatsoever on the story, and many of them have rewards of little value. Other quests can play out differently depending on your response or (in the case of Blood On Ice) what you do.
    • A good example is Finding Reyda, where, at the end, you can either flat out tell Narfi how his sister has died and destroy what's left of the poor man's hope, or lie to him and let him hope that he'll see his sister again. Your response has no bearing on how the quest plays out, so whether you want to kick the man while he's down or lift him up is entirely up to you. Or the player can join the Dark Brotherhood and put poor Narfi out of his misery.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Oh my, yes.
    • You can steal from NPCs or even kill their friends and family and they'll send thugs or assassins, or come after you themselves. You're free to retaliate as you wish.
    • As long as they aren't marked essential to quests, you're free to kill anyone you like, any way you like, and with decent Sneak you can do it in the middle of a town without getting caught. A particular Butt Monkey for this abuse is the Talos priest in Whiterun, connected to no quests, has no significant purpose, but he's quite noisy and never shuts up. So, take cover behind the fence at the Companion household so you're out of sight, take out your bow... Or with high enough sneak, creep up behind him and impale or decapitate him.
    • Sacrifice your spouse to a demon god.
    • A mod that allows the killing of children makes this even worse.
    • There are bunnies in the game. Yes, they are cute and harmless. And, yes, you can still kill them. There's even a player stat called "Bunnies Slaughtered".
    • What's a good way to level up Conjuring and Destruction skills at the same time? Raise corpses or summon familiars... and kill them yourself.
    • You can continuously heal and burn people (most notably the Torture Victims in the Dawnstar Sanctuary's torture chamber), leaving them in agony but unable to die.
    • It's mentioned that giants are peaceful beings who will leave you alone as long as you do the same, just keep your distance and don't bug their mammoths, and some in the wild will just look at you then continue on their way. However, alchemy levels up faster the stronger the potions you make are, and Giant's Toe is one of the most potent alchemy ingredients in the game. Furthermore, mammoths are some of the very few non-human creatures who yield Grand Souls for enchanting. You can figure out the rest yourself.
    • Characters flagged as essential can't be killed. That means that you can just keep on hurting them as much as you want, so long as you're willing to pay the trivial forty septim penalty for assault. Nothing like announcing your arrival in Solitude by locating Erikur and setting him on fire. Again.
    • Three words: Fus. Ro. Dah.
      • Demonstrated rather well by an X-Play segment called "Wake-Up Call at the Riverside Inn", where the player wandered around the inn and Fus Ro Dah'd all the sleeping patrons.
      • And of course let's not forget blasting your follower off of cliffs. Happy landing, Lydia!
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Some players have trouble grasping the difference between knowledge of something and understanding of it. This concept is necessary to understand how shouts are learned and how Dragonrend works. It's all built on the philosophical concept of qualia.
  • Villainous Rescue: The dragon at the beginning shows up just in time to save your character from being executed.
  • Visible Silence:
    • At one point, after freeing Orthorn, your response to one of his lines is "...".
    • Also, "(Remain Silent)" is still a speech option in the Dark Brotherhood questline.


  • "Wake-Up Call" Boss: Hamelin, the guy squatting in caves underneath the Honningbrew Meadery. Up to this point in the Thieves Guild questline, your jobs have been burglarizing, extortion, pickpocketing, and arson... usually with specific instructions not to kill anyone or cause more harm than is necessary. Then WHAM!, they hit you with this guy. Surrounded by an army of skeevers and spiders, Hamelin boasts impressive fireball spells, has resistances to several types of damage, runs at a stunningly fast speed and is nigh impossible to sneak to or past at lower levels (if you alert his "pets", you alert him as well). There is absolutely no warning that this guy is part of the mission, making it highly possible you didn't bring the right gear with you. Good luck with that. It's even lampshaded that the guy who hired you for the job KNEW about him, he just didn't want to scare potential recruits away. Would YOU have taken the job, if you knew what you were in for?
  • Was Once a Man: The Augur of Dunlain is a talking vortex of magic connected to some sort of place it can summon shades from. It also is able to sense intent and see through time to some extent. The Augur was once a student of the college who was overzealous in his pursuit of the deepest arcane lore.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The concept of mortality and temporary. See Brown Note above.
  • We Are Everywhere: What the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild end up becoming. The Thieves Guild will gain agents, fences and allies in every major hold, and part of your job throughout the questline is to put the fear of God into people by breaking into their houses, framing them or destroying their assets. And in the Dark Brotherhood, you single-handedly prove that no one, not even the Emperor himself, is safe from them, and to drive the trope home, random guards will whisper "Hail Sithis" as you pass them.
  • Welcome to Corneria: The guards have enough possible lines that they tend not to get repetitive on normal encounters walking around, but actively speaking to one can rapidly get repetitive, especially when every guard in Skyrim will tell you that they took an arrow in the knee. And then there's the shopkeepers, who you will speak to repeatedly. "Some may call this junk, me I call them treasures."
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Thalmor, at least to non-Dunmer elves. Altmer and Bosmer view the creation of Mundus as an act of malevolence by Lorkhan. After all, Mundus is a cruel, harsh land and the cause of all mortal suffering. To them, escaping Mundus is escaping suffering. However, the Thalmor seen in the game generally seem to care only about Elven superiority, suggesting that this is not public (or that they don't care for destroying Mundus), even to most Thalmor themselves.
  • Wham! Episode: Arguably the entire game. Let's recap. The end of the Dark Brotherhood questline has you kill the Emperor, it's possible to boot the Empire out of Skyrim by siding with the Stormcloaks, the Empire's already lost about half of its territory.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: One quest starts this way when you wake up in a temple in Markarth after being challenged to a drinking contest in an entirely different city. An entirely different city over a hundred miles away after proposing marriage, stealing a goat and selling it to a Giant to pay for the ring, and molesting the temple statuary while making as big a mess as possible. If you wander for a while, you'll meet a guy who you offered 10 000 gold for going into a bandit camp to steal a hat. Considering the fact that your drinking partner was the Daedric Prince of Debauchery, there's a very simple explanation for this.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: When Dragons fight each other, they're really just having an intense verbal debate... in a language that creates fire from nothing and can slow time, just by saying the words for 'Fire' or 'Time'.
    • Ysgramor could eat soup with a fork.
    • Dual-wield pickaxes. Mine like a boss!
  • What the Hell, Player?: The Greybeards will call the player out on killing Paarthurnax, especially after all the help he gave. The Greybeards will also refuse to help the player any further, seal the entrance to their fortress with an unpickable lock, and if you manage to get out onto the courtyard while one of them is meditating, they might hit you with a Thu'um shout and throw you off the side of the mountain.
    • A couple followers will say this whenever you do something they disagree with and can even abandon or attack you (or both) if you do something particularly heinous.
    • Jarl Balgruuf will deliver this if you side with the Stormcloaks and sack Whiterun.
      • All of the Jarls you overthrow in the war will give you this treatment if you visit them in exile. Their kids and housecarls are all there too. This does get noticeably weird when you do drop off bounties they hired you for. You are a good-for-nothing traitor one line, and then suddenly, it's a pleasure doing business with you the next.
    • Paarthunaax actually gives a surprisingly subtle one to the player if you chat with him about the nature of being a dragon. He notes that dragons have an innate desire to dominate, kill and destroy, and that being a Dragonborn, so do you. You feel those same urges to conquer and kill and steal and amass power too.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: The situation between Morrowind and Black Marsh. The former has been raiding the latter for slaves for centuries, but now that Red Mountain has erupted, devastating a large portion of Morrowind, Black Marsh is now invading them.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Frostbite Spiders for Farkas in the final Companions story quest. He points out that this is due to a close encounter with them in an earlier quest.
  • Wicked Witch: Witches appear as enemies, but Hagravens fit the typical description a tad better. The Glenmoril witches arguably count when you learn what they did.
  • With Lyrics: The theme tune of Skyrim is essentially (in the words of the creators) a "barbarian choir singing to the Elder Scrolls theme in the draconic language" (with an English version of the song also written for the audience's benefit), supposedly the prophecy of the Dragonborn:

And the scrolls/have foretold/of black wings in the cold/that when brothers wage war come unfurled!/ALDUIN/Bane of Kings,/ancient shadow unbound,/with a hunger to swallow the world!

  • Wizard Duel: If your skill with magic gets high enough, a "challenger" will appear at some point in a civilized area and challenge you to a Duel to the Death with magic. But there's nothing to stop you from simply FUS RO DAH'ing him over Castle Dour or drawing a warhammer and crushing his skull the instant the duel begins. Or even better, just running away and letting the guards deal with him. Apparently, no one warned the challenger that Nords take a dim view of someone tossing fireballs inside the hold walls....
  • Wizarding School: The College of Winterhold.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Occasionally, you will come across a group of bandits or thugs dressed as Imperial Soldiers claiming to be in some special operation and demand a "fine" for intruding into a "restricted area" (i.e. their modus operandi for robbery). You'll know their jig is up by the hesitancy of their words, or better yet, during or after the Civil War questline, and you reply with "I'm with the Imperial Legion and you're not." if you're on the Imperial side, or "Gee, only three legionnares against a Stormcloak? Hardly seems fair." if you're with the Stormcloaks. Another clue are some bodies of dead imperial soldiers with their uniforms missing.
  • Won't Work On Me: If you hit an atronach with a destruction spell of its elemental alignment, it just stands there. It doesn't aggro, it doesn't stagger. You get a notification that it "resisted" the attack too.
  • Worf Had the Flu: If you choose to Destroy the Dark Brotherhood, you can later hear some guards say that they could have done the same thing, but they were sick that day.
  • The World Is Not Ready: What the Monk from the Psijic Order says about the Eye of Magnus at the end of the College of Winterhold questline. Apparently, the Psijics are keepers of such things.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • The first dragon you fight will actually compliment about the bravery of the Dovahkiin and how noble it is to be brave before the final moments of his life.
    • If you choose to kill Astrid during the Dark Brotherhood "initiation", her final words to you are to compliment you on your skills.
  • Wreaking Havok: Use the Unrelenting Force shout in a room full of loose items (tankards, food, etc). Go on, it'll be fun!
    • Bones from defeated skeletons will bounce off the floor and damage you if you sprint into them.
    • Extra-fun if you shout all three words, as you can include people and creatures in that list!
    • Enemies ragdoll when they die (or get hit with enough force, like a destruction spell with Impact or FUS RO DAH) and can get knocked around by objects, including swung weapons. Thus, sideways swings with weapons that kill an enemy can knock their bodies aside, even off ledges and over railings. Nothing quite like literally batting an enemy out of your way with a warhammer.
    • Guards (and presumably anyone) can be clubbed by a giant and launched into orbit. Video proof.
    • Dawnbreaker, a sword that you receive as a quest item, has the power to cause an explosion that throws literally everything (items, enemies, people, dogs) around in a blaze of insanity.
    • The bones of dead dragons will go flying when hit with a fireball, firebolt or resurrect spell.
    • Go on, use Courage indoors. It is a non-damaging buff spell, and yet the area of effect makes things fly off the shelves. Skyrim Special Edition backports the physics of Fallout 4 into the world of Skyrim, which allows certain former static objects to be both movable and destroyable.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: One of the two hand to hand finishing moves is a chokeslam. The 1.5 patch added in several more finishing moves, including a suplex, a three-quarter nelson choke and what appears to be a powerbomb. Apparently the Dovahkiin has been watching Monday Night Raw.
  • Wretched Hive:
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The Stormcloaks initially believe that the Dragon at Helgen is controlled by the Legion, while the Legion believe that the Stormcloaks woke up a Dragon to aid them in the war. Both believe it's far too much of a coincidence that it showed up right as Ulfric was about to be executed. The Blades think the dragon was awakened by the Thalmor and meant to prolong the civil war by saving Ulfric's life. All of them are wrong. It showed up because of you. The moment you enter Windhelm, you see a few locals accusing an innocent Dunmer of being a spy for the Empire, simply because she's a Dunmer. It's intensely racist, but looking upstairs in the New Gnisis Cornerclub (a Dunmer-run Tavern) reveals the owner actually is an Imperial spy (or just collects Imperial memorabilia).


  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • The White Gold Concordat. The Great War between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion ended with the Thalmor government demanding that the Empire ban Talos worship throughout the Empire. If the Empire refuses, fine: the war would continue, and it'd end with a Pyrrhic Victory for either side. If they agree, they piss off several of their outlying human nations (especially the Nords of Skyrim) and ensure civil war throughout the Empire for decades, keeping it weak. This is explicitly outlined in several Dossiers you can steal in the main quest (especially the one on Ulfric Stormcloak) in which the Thalmor say that they don't want either side to win the war just yet... not until they've weakened themselves considerably.
    • The Skyrim Civil War itself is this for the Dominion, who helped orchestrate it: if the Empire wins, the Empire will be drained by the conflict. If the Stormcloaks win, the Talos-worship-stopping goal will be hampered, but the Empire will be effectively ended.


  • You All Meet in a Cell: As per Elder Scrolls tradition, but this time, you actually do learn why you're imprisoned. You accidentally stumbled into an Imperial ambush while crossing the border, being mistaken for a rebel Stormcloak.
    • Of course, now the Noodle Incident becomes "why were you crossing the border?" instead of "why were you thrown in jail?". Also, both Imperials and Stormcloaks will assume you were a criminal before then, but both sides will pardon it. General Tullius will say he's sure it must have been a misunderstanding (and it's hard to tell if he's being serious or just deadpan), but Ulfric Stormcloak seems convinced that you were a hardened career criminal before that ambush.
    • The comment from Hadvar for your selected race does give one option to fill in blanks for most of the races (and some later dialog trees, unrelated, give you options to choose from about your past). To wit:
      • Argonian: you're believed to be an emigrant from Black Marsh to work in one of Skyrim's maritime industries.
      • Breton: it's surmised you are on the run from a badly executed court intrigue plot in High Rock.
      • Dark Elf: Morrowind has gone to hell, and you're fleeing for a hopefully better alternative.
      • High Elf: you're either a stray Thalmor, or considered an anti-Thalmor emigrant.
      • Khajiit: thought to be a trader who got themselves in trouble with their badly timed border crossing.
      • Imperial: like the Dark Elves, Cyrodiil has gone to hell (or has been implied to be not much better than Skyrim), and you're implied to be seeking a relatively better (or at least different) alternative.
      • Nord: left ambiguous, but you have apparently decided to return to the land of your birth, at the worst possible time.
      • Orc: you're thought to be a member of (or wanting to join or rejoin) one of the Orc strongholds in Skyrim.
      • Redguard: much like the Argonians, you are surmised to either be a sailor from Stros M'kai (the setting of Redguard) or a mercenary looking for work in Skyrim.
      • Wood Elf: thought to be an emigrant from Valenwood for reasons unknown, but possibly related to the Thalmor occupation.
  • You Fool!: Arvel the Swift says this to Dovahkiin after being rescued from a spider web... by the Dovahkiin, who will have inevitably killed most of his buddies and the giant poisonous spider that was about to eat him. He'll typically get maybe three steps before the Dovahkiin blasts/bashes/bellows him to death and loots his body. Failing that, he'll run straight into a room full of zombies and Hilarity Ensues. Even if he miraculously escapes the zombies, the pressure plate-activated, spring-loaded spike grate will kill him for sure. And if that doesn't kill him either, he runs straight into a corridor of swinging axes!
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Standard operating procedure among the Daedric deities. Odds are before their quest ends, you'll be killing some of their followers because they decided you're more worthy of their attention. One of them does so, then sics some enemies on you as a parting gift.
    • Not counting the Daedric Princes, many of the people you previously helped will try to pull this on you. Arvel The Swift is probably the first (if the Draugr failed to kill him), others include Chief Yamarz in Lagashbur, Jaree-Ra and Deeja in Solitude and Mercer Frey which also doubles as He Knows Too Much.
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: Some people in Windhelm tend to talk vaguely about "damn Dark Elves and Argonians"... even if your character is a Dark Elf or an Argonian. And bordering on Too Dumb to Live when playing as an orc specializing in heavy armor:

Guard: Orcish armor? Used to have a set of that. Ugly and strong, like those who forged it.

  • Your Head Asplode: Among the more brutal finishers in the game is the werewolf's double-claw power attack, where they lift the poor target off the ground and pop their head like a grape.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: Done by you. The central concept of being The Chosen One is that you can absorb the souls of dragons to grow in strength. You can also learn the Soul Trap spell or enchant items with the same ability, allowing you to draw the souls of slain enemies into soul gems.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters:
    • The Empire sees Ulfric Stormcloak as a vicious, racist extremist who abused his Thu'um ability to murder Skyrim's High King, while the Stormcloaks see him as a valiant hero, fighting to protect the Nord way of life and deserving of the crown, who legitimately defeated the prior High King in a lawful challenge.
    • Taken even further with the Forsworn, who want revenge for the massacre of their people at Markarth and independence for the Reach, but were seen as terrorists by the Stormcloaks.

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